By MEGHAN FULLER
Billed as the first major communications networking event of the year, ComNet Conference and Expo 2001 is expect to draw nearly 50,000 people to the Convention Center in Washington, DC, Jan. 29 through Feb. 1. As in the past, its tutorials, conference sessions, and special programs will provide technical information about such topics as building a resilient network; ensuring a secure network infrastructure; designing, developing, and operating intelligent networks; and deploying emerging and future technologies across the network. This year, however, the conference will also explore how to build business value through intelligent networks.
"We'll certainly stay true to our roots with the show in terms of giving people actual technical answers," explains Rob Scheschareg, vice president of IDG World Expo (Framingham, MA), organizers of the event. "But what we're trying to do now and will continue to do is add a business strategic element to it."
To that end, ComNet will feature panel discussions and case studies throughout the conference that explore the challenges inherent in building intelligent networks and the impact of these challenges on business strategies. Topics include "Managing Business Services: What's in it for the Customer," "The Building Blocks of Broadband," and "Coupling Telephony to the Internet: The Implications of Ubiquitous Service."
Now in its 22nd year, the ComNet conference has a reputation for providing technical information. ComNet 2001 will feature both half- and full-day tutorials on Monday, Jan. 29. The full-day tutorials are designed to offer an in-depth examination of such topics as "Voice, Fax, and Video over IP: Implementing the Converged Enterprise," "QoS for Voice over IP and ATM Networks," and "Fundamentals of Network Security."
Half-day tutorials run from 9 am to noon and 1 to 4 pm also on Monday. They cover such topics as multiservice switching, wide area networks, and the new public network.
The exposition part of the event opens Tuesday, Jan. 30, at 10 am with the keynote address from General Colin L. Powell. John A. Roth, president and CEO of Nortel Networks, will deliver Wednesday's keynote, and Dennis F. Strigl, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, is slated for Thursday's address.
The exposition floor will feature exhibits and demonstrations from nearly 500 companies, a 25% increase over last year's conference, fueled by the plethora of new companies entering the market. Scheschareg expects the show floor will cover every inch of the Convention Center's 400,000 square feet, with some sessions and tutorials already scheduled in the Renaissance Hotel across the street. Items of note include:
- New Venture Alley. Privately held and less than three years old, companies featured in this section include AristaSoft Corp., BridgeWave Communications Inc., CarrierChoice, Laurel Networks, Quarry Technologies Inc., and SunCastle Technologies Inc.
- VoIP Interoperability Lab. Sponsored by Network World and Mier Communications, the lab tests the interoperability of enterprise-level voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) gateways and IP PBX devices.
- The "Best of Test" Pavilion. Sponsored by Network World, this exhibit offers attendees a closer look at what the publication's reviewers have selected as the best enterprise-networking products at the show.
The week's program also includes 108 conference sessions, many of which are specifically geared to the fiber-optic community. They cover basic subjects like "Optical Networking 101" to more complex topics, including "The Powerline Telecommunications Network: When Broadband Access and In-home Networks Converge." These sessions will be held Tuesday, Jan. 30, 8:30 am to 5:15 pm, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 8:30 am to 4:45 pm, and Thursday, Feb. 1, 10:15 am to 2:15 pm.
Three special programs, open to all attendees, round out the conference's offerings. John Gallant, editorial director of Network World, will moderate a session called "Network World's Security Showdown," which will examine the various technologies and vendor approaches available for securing a network. The session will be held Tuesday at 1:15 pm.
An executive roundtable discussion will take place on Wednesday from 1 to 2 pm. Hosted by Patricia Sabga, co-anchor of CNN's "The New Economy Watch," the roundtable will feature top executives in the fiber-optic community discussing key issues in the industry.
Finally, Richard Wiley, senior partner of Wiley, Rein & Fielding and former chairman of the FCC, will moderate a town meeting on the topic of "Telecommunications Policy and Regulation in the New Administration," Thursday from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm.